I was invited by General Assembly (GA) Hong Kong to talk about my experience in the Web Development Immersive (WDI) course.

1. Introduce yourself and describe what you’re currently working on. How did you get the idea for it? What is it about? What stage are you in?

My name is Victor. I am a software engineer. Currently I am working on a couple interesting projects with JavaScript frameworks:

  1. Native iOS/android mobile app using Ionic and neo4j graph database
  2. A video chatroom using WebRTC, Node.js and Express.js
  3. A music visualiser using WebGL and Three.js
  4. A LinkedIn-like network platform using Angular.js and MongoDB.
  5. A realtime voting system using Meteor.js and D3 data visualisation.

Some of them are open source project, please check out my GitHub if anyone interested to contribute or just try out the demo: https://github.com/victorleungtw

2. Why did you decide to take WDI at GA — as opposed to attending night classes at a HK university, a different program, or researching the subject online?

Before WDI at GA, I was a digital marketer responsible for social media promotions in Australia. In this role, I was fascinated to see how technology is rapidly changing the traditional media and marketing channels.

A good website is the centre of all of your digital marketing effort. All your digital presence is trying to draw traffic to your website and hopefully for lead generation. This is why important to have a mobile friendly website for users and easily accessible for the Google search engine indexing.

With my passion in all things digital, I am excited to be the change I want to see using disruptive technologies. Driven by this strong motivation, I enrolled the WDI programme at GA for foundation of coding skills in both front-end HTML, CSS and back-end Rails server.

I have to continuously learn something new in order to make myself more marketable and also better prepared for the challenging career paths. Since computer-related fields is such a fast changing environment, night classes at a HK university may not be the best place for upgrading yourself for leading-edge technology. I believe this program would be a perfect choice in order to sustain my competitiveness and go beyond.

3. Recap the student experience: What was your favourite part of your GA experience?

My favourite part was meeting new friends, all come from different background and different area. We have classmate from the U.S. with a master degree in computer science; one from France with banking background; one from Australia with financial background, one from Hong Kong with gaming background etc.

Learning curve could be steep sometimes, and getting stuck is very common phenomenon as a junior programmer. I enjoy the way we were helping each other out both technically and emotionally. Overall, web development is team work. A website is too complex to build everything by yourself, not matter how smart you are.

This personal network would serve you well at the beginner of the career in a new industry especially if you are have a career change like me.

4. How did the course / instructor help you with achieving your goals?

My goal is simply land a job in the industry. The strong network of GA in Hong Kong helps me a lot to connect with startup ecosystem, serial entrepreneurs, experience developer and venture capital funding. (Special thanks to Justin for his hard work during this process)

To achieve my goal, I have to network, network, network. Seek out meetups, hackathon etc. This is where you find out what’s trending. I am one of the organiser of JavaScript Hong Kong meetup group with GA instructor. I also participated in code4good charity hackathon and be the charity choice winner. I joined Hacking Health hackathon and we entered the final round for opportunity to pitch to AXA panel.

5. What were the top 3 things you learned from the course that are most helpful to your current projects? Things that maybe you couldn’t have just learned by yourself?

  1. Wireframing — Honestly, I didn’t realise how important it is when I was in the course. After several project experience, I understand the true nature of website is a product that is never finished. It is utterly important to think and plan ahead before you have a deep dive into the coding part. It takes you one hour to change a feature in the finished product, it would takes you only one minute to change in paper wireframing if you start it right at the first step. Time is the most valuable resources as a developer.
  2. User Testing — It is best practice to keep getting user feedback. You would be surprise by how users interact with your design. Your codebase should be driven by testing, which should be prioritise by the demands of the market. Think from the user perspective and use agile development methodology to iterate and improve user experience. Otherwise, you would be frustrated by building tons of cool features but throwing it away at the end.
  3. Learn how to learn — My instructor could not teach us everything with limited time in three months. It takes curiosity and autonomy to self learn and pick up a new technology quickly. Ultimately, you are responsible for your own learning.

6. Life after GA: What’s next for you?

ABC — Always be coding. The more you code, the better you’ll get. It is that simple. Now I am preparing myself with a stronger theoretical foundation to take on leadership roles in the I.T. industry and stay ahead professionally. Web and mobile development is such a board area with lots of new aspects to learn, to explore, to challenge yourself. There is always a better way to do things, to perfect and to simplify.


Originally published at victorleungtw.com on December 14, 2014.